Friday, March 1, 2013


Checking out books at a popular local-chain outlet a few years ago I noticed that we Pinoys were buying Rick Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Life.” It is not surprising. Warren is a New York Times bestselling-author and the book is reported to have sold over 30 million copies. It came to mind after I read a Philippine Star article on 28th Jan 2013, “P-Noy questions perks granted to Thai firm.”

President Aquino has questioned the Board of Investments (BOI) for granting a foreign firm a six-year tax holiday, aside from a 30-percent incentive for the importation of corn and other raw feed as industry pioneer . . . The President himself raised the question of how does one define pioneering status. How can the BOI grant the Thai company pioneering status when we have been raising hogs and chickens for so long?” Alcala said in a television interview . . . [Agriculture Secretary Proceso] Alcala, who was not consulted by the BOI on the matter, noted that the board only considered its required minimum capitalization of $200 million in granting pioneering status to CP.”

We want foreign investments yet we continue to send mixed signals to the rest of the world? Because ours is a “transaction-driven” as opposed to a “purpose-driven” environment? Does it also characterize our enterprises big and small – granted that entrepreneurs are opportunistic by nature? Unfortunately, our success model no longer fits contemporary times. Enterprises may be giddy about the number of deals they pursue, big or small, but are we missing the overarching purpose of these efforts?

For example, coconut juice/water is now the “flavor of the month.” And we are celebrating the recent growth of the industry. Yet as an investor was reminding himself, “we’ve had ‘flavors of the month’ for the longest time and invariably no one would see the forest. And so before we knew it we had ruined the industry because of a lack of standards – and thus undermining our credibility in the global community – and/or for failure to put the right infrastructure to sustain the undertaking.”

And it brings to mind the many road maps we’ve been developing. But then, again, we are celebrating these efforts when we have yet to match them with rigorous execution commitments, including the requisite infrastructure? Because we celebrate the activity (e.g., transaction) as opposed to the outcome (i.e., purpose) even our overseas ventures are targeted to Pinoys and thus parochial – not gaining any new consumer insights beyond our own? Is it why we struggle with global competitiveness? “How do you get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice”?

We want foreign investments yet we keep sending mixed signals? Is it the bureaucracy once again? Or is it vested interests that get in the way? Or is it what we mean by “inclusive”? And that when we are not part of “the deal” like that with the Thai investors we kick up a storm? Whatever it is where is the common good? (This blog is on its fourth year – and some have been offended by its critical views. Two have questioned my patriotism and another two my credentials. In fairness, many also see value including over 35K “Likes” in Facebook even when the blog is not on Facebook.) Hopefully Juan de la Cruz would have finally realized that we are economic laggards not because it is our destiny but because we simply blew it? And that we must indeed keep fighting "que sera, sera”?

Specifically, because we have the least ability to attract foreign investments we have the lowest levels of investments – and thus the least in infrastructure development and are behind in industrialization. Not surprisingly our technological capability is suspect as well as our innovation quotient. We need to step up talent development to meet 21st century demands and be able to expand our market reach. Otherwise we shall indeed struggle with global competitiveness and, by definition, economic development? The fiscal and monetary policies that economists are pushing must still be pulled together by an "overarching purpose" so that the elements come together in synergy and, as importantly, prioritized . . . and executed.

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